Home buyers come out in force in April, keep market strong

Posted by DB Wilson on Tuesday, June 5th, 2012 at 8:44am.

 The Boulder-area housing markets continued to demonstrate their eagerness to climb out of their slump in April, with both single-family and attached-units sales increasing more than 20 percent compared with the same month last year.


“They look great,” says Ken Hotard, senior vice president of public affairs for the Boulder Area Realtor Association. “We’ve been on this trend for quite some time. This is 10 out of 11 months with consecutive sales increases.”


But April’s sales seem especially impressive, with single-family homes sales nearly reaching 350 compared with 257 sales in April 2011 – a 34 percent increase. And 101 condominiums/townhomes sold in April 2011 compared with last April’s 75 – a 35 percent jump.


Compared with March’s 270 single-family and 88 attached home sales, April’s sales increased approximately 27 percent and 15 percent, respectively.


The statistics are “all in all positive,” Hotard says, but notes that obstacles to a steady market still exist. “We continue to have issues with (lack of) inventory. Real estate professionals on the street say they could sell more houses if we had more houses available.


“The inventory continues to be the big story. People are staying in their homes and not putting them on the market,” he adds. “Potential home sellers are reluctant to enter the market when they feel they can’t get what they need or what their home is worth in the slowly recovering economy.”


But given the market data from the last 11 months and reports Hotard has received from buyers’ agents, that belief is not entirely accurate.


“I think the market is stronger than potential home sellers appear to believe,” Hotard says.


On the positive side, the Boulder area continues to see modest job growth, credit is loosening up a little bit and loan applications are going up briskly nationally because of continued record low interest rates, though many of those loans are refinances, Hotard says.


While home sales appear to be on the rise, average and median prices for the Boulder-area market continue to fluctuate, with most of the communities witnessing minor drops. Hotard says it’s important not to read too much in to those numbers.


“According to Federal Housing Finance Authority, Boulder-area markets have lost no more than 2.5 or 3 percent in home values over the last several years,” he says. “There is some house-price fluctuation but it’s not too meaningful. They’re not as deep as experienced in many parts of the country.”


More than 90 percent of the single-family homes that sold – 314 of 344 – in April sold for $700,000 or less. And 95 of 101 condos/townhomes that sold did so for $400,000 or less.


“The lower end of the market is what is seeing the greatest activity at this point,” he says.


Hotard says financing is most challenging for potential buyers of attached units, but that market is still seeing increased activity.


“Even in the face of challenges, we’re seeing continued incremental sales-volume growth,” he notes. “I don’t see anything derailing it in the short term.

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